Seattle' Best Authentic Ramen Shop
Samurai Noodle is the first restaurant in Seattle to specialize in authentic Japanese ramen. We take pride in specializing in our famous Tonkotsu ramen (Pork broth), while offering other delicious options. We are passionate about what we do. You will never find us compromising our product - each and every bowl is made with the same passion to give our customers an authentic ramen experience.
**Please see our official web site (www.samurainoodle.com) for detailed business hours and contact information:
International District Store;
606 5th Ave. S. Seattle WA 98104
*Customers can use the Uwajimaya Parking lot
University District Store;
4138 University Way N.E. Seattle WA 98105
Capitol Hill Store;
412 E. Broadway, Seattle, WA 98102
We are participating 2017 Northwest Foodshow at Oregon convention center today and tomorrow. If you are interested in being a Samurai Noodle licensed store owner, please come to see us. Booth 444
New menu books arrived!
[03/10/17] We realized that there were still many of our ramen loving people who did not know our ramen truck operation site for Friday had been moved. We are still in South Lake Union area. Our truck is on Harrison street between Terry Ave N. and Westlake Ave N. We are there today as usual!
The first "Ramen Mt. Fuji" conqueror!
Challenge "Ramen Mt.Fuji"
Can you conquer our ultimate ramen mountain? To conquer this ramen mountain, you must beat a double portion of noodles, 3 pork slices, naruto, a soft boiled egg, corn and a lot of stir fry veggies in our shouyu-tonkotsu soup. A pat of butter is free per your request. If you empty the bowl by yourself in store, you will get $3.00 discount as a "conquer reward"!
**Currently available at University District store only; but soon will be available at other stores.
Ramen Talk #4
Hello again! First of all, I wanted to take the time to thank you all for continuing to read the Ramen Talk series. When I started the Ramen Talk, I originally wanted to share the origins of Samurai Noodle's ramen. I somehow ended up being sidetracked and have added many general ramen facts in this series. As I continued writing these Ramen Talks, I myself have begun to realize how deep "ramen" is.
Today, I would like to talk about our "Shouyu Ramen” soup. However, before I get into our main topic, I will like to first clear up a common misconception regarding the “Shouyu Ramen”. Shouyu Ramen directly translates to Soy Sauce Ramen. Many people believe soy sauce is spelled or pronounced “shoyu”, and therefore pronounce the “Shouyu Ramen” as “Shoyu Ramen”. However, the correct pronunciation is in fact “Shouyu Ramen”.
Unlike the Tonkotsu Ramen, from the name "Shouyu ramen" alone, there is not enough information to immediately assume what sort of broth the ramen uses. Although "Tonkotsu ramen" is defined to be "Pork-bone ramen," the Shouyu Ramen has been known to use various ingredients to flavor its soup. It mainly uses chicken (or chicken bone) broth. In fact, Shouyu ramen is the most widely served ramen in Japan (the world), so the varieties of Shouyu Ramen found across Japan are countless. The Shouyu Ramen traditionally uses chicken (or chicken bones), but there are types of Shouyu Ramens that mix/use fish broth, vegetable soup, pork bone, pork back fat, shellfish, and much more.
People consider Shouyu ramen to originate from Tokyo since the arguably “first ramen shop”, Rai Rai ken, served the Shouyu Ramen from Tokyo. But, the Shouyu Ramen represents many other regions and has been localized to be known as the Tsugaru ramen, Kitakata ramen, Sano ramen, Kyoto ramen, Onomichi ramen, and much more! As an especially unique Shouyu ramen, Toyama Black ramen is also very famous. Its black color of the broth is a result from the soy sauce. Because there are thousands of unique varieties of Shouyu Ramen, it is extremely hard to standardize the Shouyu Ramen.
Our Shouyu Ramen broth is created using a mixture of chicken and fish, and our particular type of Shouyu ramen has roots in Tokyo. What I originally wanted to create was a Shouyu Ramen that we can either enjoy after drinks or at the beach. This is first of all, because it is very common in Japan to have a bowl of ramen after we drink (or got drunk). Whenever I am drunk in Japan, my damaged stomach can’t handle dense, greasy foods. In these cases, I always ask for simple, non-greasy hot soup. Of these soups, I have found that the Shouyu Ramen is my absolute favorite. Just as it is popular in Japan to eat Ramen after drinking, it is very popular to enjoy a bowl of Ramen at the beach. In Japan, there are many summer-season-limited restaurants on beach. Shouyu ramen is always a main food item at these beach restaurants. After swimming in cold waters for many hours, a nice hot bowl of ramen is perfect for warming up a chilled body. In both cases, several shakes of white pepper are the perfect complement of the Shouyu ramen, so I urge you all to try it! Our Shouyu Ramen uses wavy egg noodles, and the soup is always crystal clear. Since our Tonkotsu broth is thick and heavy, we wanted to keep our Shouyu broth light and lean.
Preparing our chicken broth cooking doesn’t require days of boiling, unlike our Tonkotsu broth. However, maintaining the quality of our chicken broth is a lot more difficult than maintaining our pork broth. Keeping the clearness and temperature of the chicken broth requires precise flame control. The Shouyu Broth’s temperature must always be right below the boiling point. Any mistake can significantly change the flavor of the broth. Just as we only use authentic ingredients for our Tonkotsu Broth pot, we use nothing but natural chicken and dried fish flakes in our Shouyu Broth pot. Consequently, each of our stores has large amounts of chickens and fish flakes at the end of every night.
On a side note, Samurai Noodles receives many samples of soup ingredients and noodles from outside sales representatives. They try to advertise their product by saying “###X uses this,” or “it is really good to keep consistent pork flavor/chicken flavor,” etc. Sure, artificially synthesized products probably taste good. Using these products is probably easier than boiling broths for days, or having to maintain flame control. Some people most likely won’t be able to tell the difference. It also will likely lower our production cost. However, if we sell pre-made soup ingredients or noodles that other ramen shops or even customers can also buy, what is the meaning of our existence as a ramen shop? Is making our job cheaper and easier worth sacrificing our tradition and originality? What sort of service and excitement could we possibly provide for our customers if you could buy our food off a shelf at a supermarket? At Samurai Noodles, we fill each bowl of ramen with our authentic Japanese ramen culture so you can enjoy a unique experience you can’t get at home.
As always, thank you for your continuous support for our Ramen Talk series!
See you again at Ramen Talk #5!
Ramen Talk #3
Today, we would like to talk about the wavy egg noodles, which we also make here at Samurai Noodles.
However, before we get into our wavy egg noodles, I would first like to talk about the history of ramen so that you can get an idea of where ramen came from.
There have been many theories as to when ramen was first made, who made it, and who ate it first in Japan. Unfortunately there is no clear answer to these questions, but it is generally believed that ramen was brought from China in the early 1600’s. One theory states that the first ramen was served to Mitsukuni Tokugawa, also known as “Mito Kohmon”. He was the uncle of the Shougun of the Tokugawa family in the Edo Dynasty. However, the “ramen” that he ate was not the same ramen that we have today. Ramen in the 1600’s consisted of plain noodles in soup with no toppings. Over the next 300 years, ramen remained as noodles-in-soup until the early 1900’s when the first ramen shop called “Rai Rai Ken” opened in Tokyo. After World War II, ramen became a huge hit and began to spread throughout Japan, where it would then become localized. Some of the localized ramen styles today are the Hakata Ramen, Nagahama Ramen, Kumamoto Ramen, Kurume Ramen, Onomichi Ramen, Wakayama Ramen, Tokyo Ramen (Shouyu Ramen), Yokohama Ramen (a.k.a. “Ie-kei”), Kitakata Ramen, Tsugaru Ramen, Asahikawa Ramen, and Sapporo Ramen. There are, of course, many more localized ramen in Japan, but they are all named after the city or region it was developed. Each of these localized ramen typically uses locally famous produce or fish to create their own unique ramen flavors. One good example is the Sapporo Miso Ramen. The city of Sapporo is located in Hokkaido, Japan, which prides themselves as Japan’s primary dairy producers. In order to incorporate their local specialty, the Sapporo Miso Ramen commonly contains pads of butter. If anyone has ever wondered why Samurai Noodle’s Miso ramen contains butter, it is because we are basing it off of the Sapporo Miso Ramen! Another example of a city using their local specialties in their ramen is the Asahikawa Ramen. Asahikawa is a city within the Hokkaido region, and specializes in milk. Therefore, the Asahikawa Ramen often contains milk. If anyone ever wondered why our popular seasonal ramen, the Shiro Tonkotsu, contains milk, it’s because it is based off of the Asahikawa Ramen. At Samurai Noodles, we have always aimed to serve authentic traditional ramen from across Japan, here in America. *I personally don’t like “surprise” ramen like ramen with tempura, ramen with tonkAtsu, ramen with sukiyaki…. No… you never see such ramen in Japan.
Now that we briefly covered the history of ramen and talked about some of the localized ramen, I would like to discuss about the type of noodles used across Japan. With an exception for the Tonkotsu Ramen in Kyushu Japan (includes Hakata, Nagahama, Kurume, Kumamoto, ect), almost all other ramen in Japan use egg noodles. For this very reason, we have many customers who get confused when they first see our thin, white, Tonkotsu noodles. The typical image that most people have of ramen noodles is the yellow wavy egg noodles that have even been used in a famous ramen movie, Tampopo. Just like the Tonkotsu noodles, egg noodles are also made out of wheat flour. However, adding an egg gives it a more bouncy or elastic texture. Some people still look for the “Koshi” (bite) in egg noodles and request it to be cooked firm (kata-men), but people generally order egg noodles to enjoy the elastic texture rather than the Koshi of the noodles. Then again, there are many types of ramen in Japan and the majority of them use egg noodles, so it is almost impossible to standardize.
When making ramen noodles, there are four main factors that define its taste and texture. These factors are the wheat flour to substance flour ratio, which influences the taste, the water to four ratios which affects the texture, the ingredients which affects both the taste and texture, and the shape which affects how absorbent the noodle is. Just like our Tonkotsu noodles, the egg noodles made at Samurai Noodles are not translucent. Again, this proves that our noodles have high wheat flour which gives our noodles the sweet rich wheat flour taste. We also make our noodles with a higher Ka-Sui-Ritsu (water to flour ration) and our noodles are considered be “Ta-Ka-Sui”(多加水), which means “high water ratio” noodles. The unique characteristic of Ta-Ka-Sui noodles compared to Sho-Ka-Sui (low water ratio)(少加水) is a bouncy or elastic texture. Our Tonkotsu noodles are Sho-Ka-Sui (or called Tei-ka-sui) and also do not contain any egg in order to emphasize the Koshi in our noodles. The egg noodles we make are Ta-Ka-Sui and contain eggs in order to amplify the elastic texture of our noodles. Lastly, we make our egg noodles wavy because the wavy shape allows the noodles to absorb more soup while thin noodles like our Tonkotsu noodles do not. In order to balance the flavor of the noodles, we serve wavy egg noodles in our Shouyu Ramen and other chicken broth based soups while we serve our Tonkotsu noodles in our Tonkotsu and other pork broth based soups. Since our Tonkotsu Ramen broth has a deeper rich flavor, our Tonkotsu noodles do not need to absorb as much soup. Our Shouyu Ramen broth has a light refreshing taste, so we made our egg noodles wavy to allow it to absorb more flavor.
To request a specific firmness, you can tell your server the following options when you order your wavy egg noodles:
- Kata men (firm); 60-70 seconds to cook. *Undercooked
- Normal; 90 seconds to cook *store’s recommendation
- Soft; 120 seconds to cook. *If you are used to eating Chinese noodles, this would be similar to your preference.
Now, hopefully everyone understands why Samurai Noodles designed our thin wheat Tonkotsu and wavy egg noodles the way they are. In our next Ramen talk, we will talk about our chicken broth.
Our regular food truck lunch schedule;
Tuesday; Skyline tower in Bellevue downton (only 1st and 3rd Tuesday) 11:00 - 2:00
Wednesday; University of Washington Bothell campus 11:00 - 3:00
Thursday; South Lake Union; 505 Yale Avenue N (On Yale Ave N btw Mercer st and Republican st) 11:00-2:00
Friday; South Lake Union; 401 Terry Avenue N (On Harrison St btw Terry Ave N and Westlake Ave N) 11:00-2:00
Food Truck catering is available all day on Saturday and Sunday and after 5:00 from Mon - Fri. Please feel free to contact us!!!
Ramen Talk #2;
I hope everyone enjoyed our first Ramen Talk where we discussed the origin of Samurai Noodle's Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen noodles, and explained how we got the Koshi(bite) in our noodles.
Today, I want to talk about the Tonkotsu Ramen soup since we previously discussed about its noodles, but I would like to first start with a little bit of history.
Tonkotsu Ramen originated in Kyushu, Japan, and has remained as a local favorite for many years. The majority of Japan has been dominated by the light and refreshing taste of fish and chicken based ramen, but things started to change when Tonkotsu Ramen was introduced to Tokyo in the early 1990’s. The thick, rich, and creamy Tonkotsu Ramen became extremely popular among the younger generations, which started a huge ramen trend. The Tonkotsu Ramen’s sensationally rich flavor, the koshi in the noodles, and the “kae dama” drove the Tonkotsu Ramen to be the most popular ramen in Japan by 2000. Tonkotsu Ramen has been famous ever since, and has even begun to appear in many Ramen Shops in the United States. Chicken broth and/or fish broth mixed with Pork broth,, such fusion broth has become popular since then.
Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that we are not trying to define what good Tonkotsu Ramen is. There are many ramen shops using commercially produced pork extract or artificially flavored pork stock, but these are legitimate attempts to make flavorful broths. After all, everyone is entitled to their own preferences. From here, I will simply explain the process Samurai Noodle takes in order to create our famous pork broth. So how do we do it? It’s rather quite simple. All we do is cook pork bones for day after day over a 80,000 BTU gas burner, until the bones are soft enough to crumble between our fingers! So why does it require several days in order to create one pot of broth? This is because the thing that gives our Tonkotsu broth the distinctive rich pork flavor isn’t the white calcium on the bones as some might imagine. The secret to our flavor lies with the pork bone marrow!
In order to extract flavor from the marrow, we need to first melt marrow. This typically takes 18 hours of cooking before the marrow begins to secreting its flavor, so it really does take several days before each pot is ready to serve. In othe words, pork bones do not produce any distinctive marrow flavor that real Hakata ramen needs for 18 hours. Yes, it takes hours. In order to get around this cooking process, many shops use concentrated pork extracts and make “porky water”, but Samurai Noodles uses nothing but natural pork products. We may only use pork bones, but it is not unusual to see famous ramen “ya tai” (ramen carts) in Japan using pig heads! Although Samurai Noodles doesn’t use pig heads, don’t be surprised if you see a skull floating in a Tonkotsu pot in Japan! After we use up the pork broth, there is always large amounts of thoroughly cooked marrow at the bottom of the pot. As you can imagine, cleaning these pots actually take a lot of work, but is a necessary sacrifice in order to present you with our prided Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen!
With that said, we hope to see you in our store soon!
Of course, we highly recommend you to try our Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen. As for our Ramen talks, that all we have for this week, but next time we will discuss about our wave noodles!
Ramen Talk #1;
As a specialty Japanese ramen shop, we are proud to be diligent, honest, and passionate about ramen. We will never serve pre-made, artificially preserved broth or use mass-produced commercial noodles that other ramen shops may use. If you stop by at Samurai Noodles, we promise to always present you with our fresh, handmade noodles and our authentic ramen broths.
Today, we would like to talk you about the thin straight Tonkotsu noodles that we make here at Samurai Noodle. First of all, we use a noodle making machine (about 700 pounds) that we have imported from Japan and produce over 1000 servings of noodles on a daily basis. You can watch our noodle maker skillfully craft our noodles at the Samurai Noodle’s University District store or Houston store almost every day! You might watch our noodle makers at work and think that making noodles is an easy task, but you would be sadly mistaken! Noodle making requires a sensitive touch that you can’t learn from reading a manual or recipe. The recipe itself must be constantly altered slightly depending on several factors including the temperature and humidity. Noodle making is an art that requires the noodle master to “feel” the noodles.
Producing our own noodles not only requires employing a skilled noodle maker and purchasing a noodle machine, but is also more expensive than purchasing mass-produced commercial noodles. So why do we do it? We make our own noodles because we want to control the freshness, control the quality, and preserve the natural sweetness in our wheat noodles.
The noodles served at Samurai Noodles must be super fresh so that you can experience eating really-short-cooked very firm noodles known in Japan as “Bari-kata”, “Hari-gane”, or even “Kona-otoshi”. We want you to enjoy the BITE or “Koshi” which is the sensation of biting into the “Al-Dente” noodles. When you eat at Samurai Noodle, we don’t just want you to only enjoy the flavor, but we also want you to enjoy and experience the different textures, or the BITE of our ramen.
The freshness of our noodles is definitely something that we want you to feel, but we also want you to taste the natural sweetness of the noodles. If you were to take a good look at noodles served in other ramen shops, you will notice that their noodles are somewhat translucent. This occurs when the wheat flour to substance flour ratio is low, which is a way many noodle makers reduce their production cost. Substance flour is much cheaper than wheat flour, but the tradeoff is, the loss of the wheat flour’s natural sweetness. When we were creating our noodle recipe, we had the noodle machine manufacturer eat our noodles. What we needed to hear before we finalized our recipe was “your noodles are sweeter than most ramen noodles in Japan”. After many trials, we got those very words! The noodle machine manufacturer has hundreds of thousands of clients, and has eaten countless numbers of noodles from them all. Gaining their approval has led us to pride ourselves in our noodle recipe. In order to further bring out the natural sweetness of wheat flour, both our Seattle and Houston stores proudly only use flour from local mills and distributors.
Tonkotsu ramen has been Samurai Noodles specialty since 2006. “Ton” means pork and “Kotsu” means bone. Tonkotsu Ramen essentially translates to “Pork Bone Ramen”. While the origins of Tonkotsu ramen can be traced back to both Fukuoka (Hakata) Kyushu Japan or Kurume Kyushu, Samurai Noodle’s Tonkotsu Ramen is based off of the Hakata Tonkotsu ramen. The “soup” that comes with Tonkotsu ramen is not just simply “porky water”, but rather a thick, rich, broth that takes days to create. We won’t be talking about our “soup” in detail today, but it will be covered in our later sessions.
The noodles that come with Tonkotsu ramen usually have unique and distinctive characteristics. These Tonkotsu noodles generally do not contain any eggs, so they appear to be a very straight, white, and skinny. In Hakata Kyushu Japan, people generally like to enjoy the “Koshi” (Bite) in their Hakata Tonkotsu noodles. For this reason, it is common to order “Kata-men" (firm noodles), "Bari-kata" (extra firm), "Hari-gane" (metal wire), or "Kona-otoshi” (powder dropping). It is essential to not leave the noodles in liquids for an extended period of time since the noodles absorb moisture and become soggy. When the noodles are soggy, the Koshi is lost. Here in America, some people may consider Hakata style Tonkotsu noodles to be undercooked, or uncooked, but this is how Japanese people enjoy the “Koshi” in noodles.
When eating at a ramen shop, there is generally “Kae-dama”, or an additional add-on noodle option for customers. This option is served after the first noodle is served, and is eaten with the remaining broth. This Kae-Dama option aims to serve our noodles as fresh as possible so the customers are able to enjoy the Koshi of the noodles. Again, noodles that remain in broth for a few minutes absorb liquids and lose their Koshi. Hence, this is why we aim to serve the Kae-Dama option after you finish your first serving.
Japanese people try to emphasize the Koshi in their noodles, but not all noodles actually have Koshi. Wither a certain noodle has Koshi really depends on the recipe. There are hundreds of ways to obtain good “Koshi”, but controlling the water quantity is a key factor. For Tonkotsu noodles, the less water used in the noodle making process, the better Koshi will be produced. This water to flour ratio in ramen noodles is called “Ka-Sui-Ritsu" (加水率). Samurai Noodle’s noodle recipe amazingly calls for 16%-18% Ka-Sui-Ritsu. The average person may not be able to appreciate this fact, but any noodle maker would definitely tell us “no way!” Using such a low percentage of water makes creating the dough for the noodles extremely difficult. The dough is very powdery and rough, and the texture of the dough is actually very harmful for the noodle machine. Using dough with a low Ka-Sui-Ritsu is almost like running pebbles through our machine. Due to the difficulty of the dough making process and the fact that the low Ka-Sui-Ritsu potentially damages the noodle machine, the average noodle maker is discouraged from following our special recipe. We follow our recipe despite the challenges because we want to present you with the finest quality “Koshi” (bite). Here at Samurai Noodle, we pride ourselves with our original Tonkotsu noodles. We will of course, serve you soft noodles if that is your preference. However, if you are interested, please enjoy the authentic way of eating Hakata Tonkotsu ramen at our Seattle and Houston stores.
To request firmness, you can tell your server the following options when you order your Tonkotsu ramen:
- Kona-otoshi (Ultra firm); 7 -10 seconds to cook. *Uncooked
- Hari-gane or Bari Kata (Very firm); 15-20 seconds to cook. *My preference
- Kata-men; 30-35 seconds to cook. *Store's recommendation
- Normal; 45-60 seconds to cook
- Soft; 90 seconds to cook. *If you are used to eating Chinese noodles, this would be similar to your preference.
And now, hopefully you understand why at Samurai Noodle choose to make our own original noodles!
Stay tuned for next time when we cover our wavy egg noodles and our soup.
|Monday||11am - 9:30pm|
|Tuesday||11am - 9:30pm|
|Wednesday||11am - 9:30pm|
|Thursday||11am - 9:30pm|
|Friday||11am - 10pm|
|Saturday||11am - 10pm|
|Sunday||11am - 9:30pm|
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